Note: Minor spoilers are discussed during this interview.
I absolutely loved everything about War for the Planet of the Apes. It’s one of those rare and special films that is not only a huge commercial Hollywood blockbuster but also a piece of art. As you watch the film – which opens this weekend in theaters- I promise you’ll feel like I did: like you’re watching real apes on screen. While I could go on and on about Andy Serkis’ amazing performance as Caesar and how he absolutely needs to be recognized come Oscar season, I need to also point out that all the actors involved deserve special mention for delivering outstanding performances including Woody Harrelson as “The Colonel.” Unlike a lot of movies where the antagonist is an afterthought in the writing process, Harrelson delivers a fantastic performance and creates a three-dimensional character that isn’t a stereotypical villain. Trust me, War for the Planet of the Apes is easily one of the best films I’ve seen this year and it absolutely needs to be seen on a movie screen. For more read Matt Golberg’s review.
Recently I got to talk with director Matt Reeves about the making of the film. During my extended interview Reeves, we talked about what he learned from early screenings, how the first people to see the film were J.J. Abrams and Drew Goddard, Andy Serkis’ amazing work as Caesar, how Woody Harrelson contributed a lot to his character, how his first cut of the film was a lot longer and he ended up with fifteen to twenty minutes of deleted scenes, future Apes movies, and so much more.
As most of you know, the sequel finds Caesar (Serkis) on something of a revenge mission against The Colonel (Harrelson), who has amassed a human army at a compound deep in the snow. The film also stars Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller, Karin Konoval, Judy Greer, and Terry Notary.
Check out what Matt Reeves had to say in the player above and below is exactly what we talked about followed by the official synopsis and some images.
- How long was his first cut compared to the finished film? Reveals it was 45 minutes longer but it was only a few scenes. A lot of the stuff that was cut was the beginning of a scene or the end.
- Deleted scenes talk. Reveals it’s about 15-20 minutes of scenes.
- Does he want to release an extended cut?
- Do any of the scenes touch on what’s happening in the rest of the world?
- Has he written any sort of Bible about what’s happening on the planet and what could be pursued in future Apes films?
- Will he produce future Apes movies?
- What the franchise is really about and how it can hold up a mirror to who we are.
- Who did he first show the film to and what did he learn from those early screenings? Reveals the first people to see it was J.J. Abrams and Drew Goddard.
- How they did test screenings where all the audience saw was people in motion capture suits.
- The amazing work by Andy Serkis.
- Can they ever show the film where the left side of the screen is the actors in motion capture suits while the right side is the finished film?
- How much of the script was locked prior to filming?
- How Woody Harrelson had a lot of great ideas for his character.
- Did he ever have ideas for this Apes movie that were radically different than what they ultimately made?
Here’s the official synopsis for War for the Planet of the Apes:
In War for the Planet of the Apes, the third chapter of the critically acclaimed blockbuster franchise, Caesar and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless Colonel. After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the Colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both their species and the future of the planet.